"You know, I just had a thought," Romeo said serenely as he peeked through the window, keeping an eye out for trouble.
"What's that?" Cross asked, glancing around the half-finished building they had snuck into. Lots of wood, paint, and no civilians to get hurt.
Perfect place to set up the distraction.
"Well, say we were to get caught." Romeo pulled open his coat to reveal the two thick leather belts strapped across his chest and a third around his waist. Hanging on each belt was a variety of explosives. Romeo pulled off a few choice spheres and shuffled around from room to room, planting them seemingly at random and even tossing a few up the staircase and onto the second floor.
"They'd probably execute us, right?"
Cross sighed. Sometimes Romeo’s lack of tact could be of use. This was not one of those times. "Probably."
"Thought so. Well that's good then."
"How Romeo? How is that good? Enlighten me."
Romeo let out a soft laugh. "Because if I might die for this, I'm not holding back at all! This place is going to blow sky high! It's going to be my masterpiece. Like nothing you have ever seen before. They will be able to see this from Voy."
“Are you sure you don’t want to show just a little bit of restraint?”
“Completely sure.” Romeo pulled off an entire belt and dropped it on the floor. “Over one hundred percent.”
Cross stared at Romeo before letting out quiet hiss of laughter and shaking his head as Romeo continued to tinker with his 'masterpiece.'
"Alright," Romeo said, pulling a final bomb from his belt and rotating a small gear protruding out of the side. "I've set the timer for twenty minutes, so we better get moving. Fearless leader is probably already waiting for us."
Under the cover of the moonless night, Lexi led Banksy and Makina out of the inn and through the dark empty streets. As they reached the edge of the town, she fell back and allowed Banksy to take the lead. Map out, he led them through the unleveled terrain that surrounded the harbor town. It took a considerable time, but finally Banksy came to a stop, raising up his fist.
"That should be the entrance," Banksy said, pointing to a small stone structure protruding from the ground. "It's probably just a grate, one of the access points for the sewage systems. Maybe an overflow area incase of a flood."
"Probably." Banksy said, cracking his knuckles and pocketing the map. "I'm on it."
Lexi nodded as Banksy slowly approached the structure, crouched down low and eyes alert for any movement. Lexi waited until he reached his target and gave her a thumbs up before speaking to Makina.
"Maki, it might be better if you remain out here." Lexi said quietly as she watched Banksy pull his lock pick set from his pocket.
"No." Makina said firmly. "I am going."
"It will be dangerous, for all of us." Lexi cautioned. "You are a liability. We will have to protect you first if things go wrong."
"I don't care! They are my family and I shall not wait idly by."
Lexi frowned and reached behind her and drew one of the knives she had strapped to her lower back. Flipping it over so she was holding the blade, she held the weapon out to Makina. After a moment of hesitation, the girl accepted the weapon.
"These people have been ordered to kill us, Makina. They won't show mercy. If anyone comes near you, you drive that into their chest.” Lexi’s voice was soft, yet firm. “Understand?"
After a moment of hesitation, Makina nodded.
"That was a pretty intense lock for a simple sewage grate, it was rigged with a trip wire. No magic though." Banksy muttered as he returned, shaking out his hands. "I'm guessing we are into the right place.
Lexi didn't respond, tilting her head to the side as a throwing knife appeared in her hand. She waved a hand towards Banksy who nodded and led Makina off to the side. Lowing herself into a crouch, Lexi brought her arm back, the knife ready to fly, and waited.
A four-note whistle pierced through the night. It hung in the air for a moment before repeating. Lexi relaxed and dropped her arm back down to her side. She repeated the musical signal back, scarf fluttering gently.
Two outlines materialized in the darkness
"No issues?" Lexi asked, flicking her eyes from Cross to Romeo.
"We should be all set right… about… now!" Romeo said, dramatically pointing back towards the town.
"Hmmm." Romeo reached into his pocket and pulled out a pocket watch. This one he had liberated off a mugger he had met in Gorin. "And…. Now… Now… Now?"
Banksy and Makina returned the group as Romeo reached up and scratched his head. "Huh, that's really weird. The bombs should have-"
Romeo was cut off as a sudden plume of fire and smoke erupted inside the town, followed by a rapid series of thumps sounding off. The light from the fire grew brighter and rose high into the sky.
"Ah, you know, in hindsight, maybe I over did it. They do say that a little goes a long way, but so does a lot, you know?" Romeo said, brining a hand up to his chin thoughtfully, watching as the flames hungrily licked the sky and distressed shouts rang off inside the town, echoing through the night.
"We need to go," Lexi said, drawing the group's attention away from the growing flames. "Romeo, you're up front with me. Cross, center. If you sense anything, you know what to do. Banksy, you stay back with Makina, got it?" She waited to receive a murmur of understanding before nodding and leading them to the structure. Drawing Nightmare, she dropped down through the grate and into the tunnels below, landing in a light crouch with alert eyes.
She signaled her team to follow.
"There has been movement here, recently," Lexi murmured as she touched her hand to the grimy floor, glancing one way, then the other, as the others slowly descended down behind her. "Everyone stay close, and keep quiet."
"No problem," Romeo whispered as he took his place by her side, pulling on a set of gloves. These were a special design, each knuckle capped with a long spike and the palms covered with a fine metal mesh.
Side by side, the pair led the group through the musty tunnels at a painfully slow pace, Lexi pausing every few minutes and holding up her hand until she was sure the way was clear. After yet another short wait, Cross lagged back to Makina as Lexi resumed their march.
"Any of this familiar?" Cross asked, noticing for the first time the dagger Makina had clenched in her fist.
"The smell is. We are close," Makina said softly as she lifted up a hand. "I can… I can feel the others."
"Banksy," Lexi called softly as they arrived at a thick metal door. Banksy shifted to the front of the group and dropped down to one knee, getting eye level with the keyhole. Taking off his necklace, he pulled a ring free and slipped it onto his hand. Running it over the perimeter of the door he shook his head and frowned.
"I can't open it." He glanced back and Lexi and pointed to the keyhole. "Well, I can, but the door has some sort of alarm feature. It will go off even if we had the key. I guess they are serious about security here."
"Clever," Lexi muttered.
"Cross…" Makina reached out and tugged on his sleeve, her eyes wide.
"I know." Cross said softly. He could feel something tugging at his body, like a rope had been thrown around his soul. He saw Lexi tense up as well. Slowly, she turned her head towards him.
"It's magic." Lexi breathed. "So much..."
"Whoa." Romeo hissed, taking a step away from the door, the effect finally reaching him.
"I've never felt anything like that." Banksy said, standing up and moving away from the door. He reached up and touched his necklace.
"This door." Lexi pointed her blade at the handle. "The alarm will go off no matter how we open it?"
"Cross?" Lexi looked at the clairvoyant.
"Yeah, hold on." Cross said, lifting his hand up to his temple and closing his eyes. After a few moments he opened them back up and shook his head. "I can't see anything. This… whatever it is. It’s… interfering."
"I don't like it. It's bad. Evil. Malignant," Makina whispered, reaching out and gripping the back of Cross's coat. Cross gave her a gentle smile over his shoulder.
"Romeo, blow the door. Everyone, be ready for anything," Lexi ordered as she stepped back. Romeo scampered forward with far too much excitement. He quickly fixed four explosives to each corner of the door and retreating back, advising everyone else to do the same. Lifting up his hand he counted down from five. Just as he reached three, the bombs ignited and the door was blown inwards with a shower of smoke and fire. Taking the lead, Lexi lead them through the still smoking doorway and into the next room.